Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca

Back to School in Five More Sleeps

My granddaughter is going back to school in five more sleeps. For real, in class school. She has been learning online since last March, almost a year now. Since September she has been coming here for school on the days her Mom goes to work.

She is very excited to be heading back, over the moon in fact. Grandma, not so much. Of course, I am happy she is happy, but I will miss her and the quality time we have spent together these past months. It has been a bright spot for me throughout our pandemic restrictions.

We have settled into a comfortable daily routine before, during, between, and after her online lessons. Classes start at 9am with her school day ending around 330pm. That’s a long day for a seven year old, and an over sixty year old, but we manage to sneak some fun into our day.

Card Games

When she arrives around 630am, we start our day with several rounds of cards, while I sip from my first cup of coffee. She has learned, and is now quite proficient at, the games of Concentration, Go Fish and Crazy Eights. So proficient in fact that she beats me often, without me having to let her win. She is very competitive, so winning is important and losing results in a pout and a demanded rematch. I look at these games as exercise for my short term memory.

back to school

Stretches and Yoga

After she has won enough card games, we get into stretches and yoga poses. As a competitive gymnast, she knows and excels at all the warm up stretches. Grandma can keep up for a little while, until the planks last longer than a minute or she tries to shape me into a human pretzel.

back to school

Reading Books

We have been reading lots too. She reads Mia Mayhem to me, and I read Harry Potter to her.

Mia Mayhem is a series of books appropriate for her age and reading level, but even more special because she shares her name with the super hero star of the series. Santa was very clever to pick those books out for her.

Harry Potter, I would imagine, needs no explanation or introduction. She loves the Harry Potter saga so much that she dressed up as Hermoine for Hallowe’en.

back to school

Culinary Treats

Concocting treats in the kitchen has been popular too with an endless supply of cookies, muffins and even Daddy’s favourite candy for Grandma’s counter and freezer. With doggie bags for her to take some home too of course.

Fresh fruit smoothies and breakfast pancakes are other favourites too. Oh, and she doesn’t let me forget an ice cream treat after her last lesson of the day, before she starts the independent learning hour.

Today, in honour of her last day at Grandma’s school house, we went to Dairy Queen for their Blizzard BOGO event.

Outdoor Time

We also get outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine every day, so important in winter. Before the snow and cold weather arrived we spent our outdoor time predominantly in my gardens, with a few treks to the gardens I tend at our local hospice.

back to school

These past few months, since our gardens are covered in snow, our outdoor time has evolved to include walks in the snow, shoveling the snow or playing in it and with it.

Cultivating her Green Thumb

Even though we had to postpone our gardening adventures outside, we did spend time perusing garden catalogues, choosing new and interesting plants and seeds for spring planting. We also tend the seeds and cuttings we planted last fall, that now take up the entire counter area in my basement.

This week she has also been helping me repot my existing houseplants and find new homes for the new ones that have just arrived. (keep your eyes out for my next post about houseplants) We also rescued a forlorn and partially frozen large tropical corn plant from a neighbour’s snowbank today, hopefully it will survive.

Piano Lessons

All my grandchildren appear to love my piano, but this granddaughter, as the eldest grandchild, is really showing interest and talent. She has worked her way through the kids books, recently attempting a more complicated book of Christmas carols. We had planned to perform a mini concert of these songs at our family Christmas gathering, but neither the concert or the concert happened, thanks to the current rules of the pandemic.

She did let me record her playing a few tunes though…

As you can imagine, our days together have been jam packed with activities, and school lessons too. Her computer skills are now amazing for her age and she is thriving online, although she does miss her friends.

I do understand the importance of developing social skills at this age. Sitting at a computer for close to 5 hours every day is not healthy for any child. (or adult for that matter)

Grandma will miss the quality time. But not the 6am alarm.

Posted in current events, health and wellness, lorieb.wordpress.com

The Benefits of COVID-19

You wouldn’t think much good would come out of a pandemic such as COVID-19, but a few benefits have emerged. Hopefully these few good things will not disappear with the virus, if it ever does that is.

Pollution

China is typically the world’s biggest polluter, contributing 30% of the world’s CO2 emissions annually. Pictures taken by NASA have been circulating depicting the increased air quality in China. In this first set of pictures, nitrogen dioxide emissions depicted by yellow clouds of toxic gas between January 1 and 20, have disappeared between February 10 and 25th.

Due to the reduction in burning fossil fuels (coal) in China during measures taken to contain COVID-19, the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) has reported that CO2 emissions were down by at least 25% between February 3 and March 1. Good quality air days increased 22% in February due to the shut down of power plants and factories as well as the lack of vehicles on the roads. Unlike 2019 and other years, the level of pollution in China did not rise in 2020 after the Chinese New Year.

With most of Italy in quarantine, their iconic waterways are getting cleaner. The air and water is less polluted since there is less vaporetti (public waterbuses) and other boat traffic than usual because of the restricted movement of residents.  The reemergence of dolphins, fish and swans is exciting as they have not been seen in many years due to the polluted waters.

This amazing drop in emissions and the resultant fresh air and clean water is huge, but will it last? Now that they are recovering from the ravage of COVID-19, China is already talking stimulus measures for factories and workers to ramp up their activity to boost their floundering economy.

Their populations might rebel though if China’s blue skies turn gray again and Italy’s waterways revert to a murky disgrace.

Humanitarian Gestures

Sometimes crisis brings out the best in people. Many heartwarming humanitarian gestures have been circulating with the COVID-19 virus. Online support groups have popped up on Facebook and other social media platforms where healthy volunteers are helping the not so fortunate or healthy. Grocery shopping, errand running, sharing of provisions and factual information; these do-gooders have been awesome.

Family Time

With many parents forced to work from home while schools and daycares are closed, families have been spending more time together. Whether we are self-isolating, self-quarantined or practicing social distancing, spending time with our families is currently the thing to do. Hectic schedules have been shut down with no running to and from jobs, errands and extra-curricular activities. What a concept! Games, puzzles, home movies, and family dinners are suddenly popular again. What a shame it took something like a nasty virus to bring these examples of quality time to light. Hopefully we can remember to schedule some of these irreplaceable moments into our lives when the restrictions are lifted and our lives return to normal.

Fresh Air, Sunshine & Exercise

One of the luxuries we have been allowed and encouraged to do with the isolation and social distancing practices is to get out into the great outdoors to enjoy fresh air, sunshine and exercise. Science has proven that these freebies are key to staying healthy. If you didn’t already know or appreciate this, you may be learning it during this crisis.

Posted in health and wellness, loreeebee.ca

Vitamin D, the Sunshine Vitamin

photo credit: pexels.com

Vitamin D is referred to as the sunshine vitamin because your body produces it naturally when your skin absorbs direct sunlight. Just 30 minutes per day of direct sunlight is enough to achieve this. Even through a window! I remember (30 years ago now) my pediatrician advising me to put my son’s crib (or napping area) in front of a window to catch the healthy rays of sunshine. This is especially important for babies born in the winter when getting them outside with their skin exposed is more difficult if not dangerous. Especially if you experience the frigid climates we do here in Canada.

Benefits

  • creates strong bones and teeth
  • prevents depression by regulating moods, and helps with anxiety
  • reduces the risk of heart disease, MS, and some forms of cancer
  • boosts immune function, prevents colds and influenza
  • boosts weight loss goals by suppressing appetite

Deficiency Symptoms

  • depression and/or anxiety, mood swings
  • hip, leg or pelvic stress fractures
  • muscle pain or weakness
  • bone pain and/or osteoporosis
  • fatigue, general malaise

Food Sources of Natural Vitamin D

  • salmon
  • egg yolks
  • shrimp
  • sardines

Fortified Food Sources of Vitamin D

Since there are very few foods that naturally contain Vitamin D, fortified products like milk, cereals, yogurt and orange juice are readily available to boost your daily dosage.

Supplements

A thirty minute break for sunshine is easier said than done for many of us with busy lives. Thirty minutes outside may just not be a luxury your daily schedule permits. Another obstacle is the fact that the darker your skin tone is, the less your skin can absorb the beneficial effects of the sunshine. If either impediment applies to you, try the Vitamin D drops. You add them to any liquid and drink in the (effects of) sunshine. Not quite the same experience, but apparently they work.

If you do opt for the drops of Vitamin D, choose wisely and ingest only as directed. Keep in mind that animal-based Vitamin D3 is more potent than plant-based D2 version. Both can be toxic if over indulged due to resulting high levels of calcium in the bloodstream. That’s because vitamin D increases calcium adsorption from the foods you eat. Signs of toxicity (too much calcium AKA hypercalcemia) may include nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, poor appetite, fatigue and confusion.

In Conclusion

Have you noticed how people get sick and depressed more often during the winter months, especially in countries with cold temperatures? That’s because people stay indoors more when it’s miserably cold, so their skin absorbs less (or absolutely no) immunity and mood boosting Vitamin D. Like hibernating bears, we get cranky and miserable without sunshine.

Just over a bad cold myself, when I think (way) back to the few weeks prior to its onset, I did spend less time outdoors. My excuses included that fact that it was either too cold or too slippery out. It didn’t help that I was busy with a writing project, something I can do in my cozy, warm pjs. Many days I didn’t want to disturb my writing progress by taking the time to bundle up and get outdoors.

Well, I paid for (and learned from) that error in time management (and laziness).

Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common around the world. The benefits of adding it to your daily routine far outweigh the risks, which are not even an issue when correct doses of supplements are taken.

The good news is you cannot overdose on the natural vitamin D your body makes from exposure to sunshine! Credit for the feature (top of page) picture goes to my sister Vickie, living in sunshine on the gulf coast beaches of Texas.

credit to Pexels
Posted in gardening, lorieb.com, weather

Spring is here, I hope

While my turkey was cooking this afternoon, I took the opportunity to get outside in the beautiful sunshine we are enjoying this weekend.  Most of my yard is bare with just a few patches of snow left.  I saw a few buds and stems of perennials basking in the sunshine too…

 

     My pond is still frozen with the plants around it covered in snow…

pond

 

A quick peek at my gardens turned into a chance to trim back some ornamental grasses that I left over the winter…

These ornamental grasses are best trimmed right now when they start to show some new growth.  Another garden chore that can be done very early is the trimming of any dead, crossing or undesirable branches on your trees.  It is much easier to do now than when the leaves emerge as you can see the shape of the tree better.

The rest of the plants are best left alone for a while yet…